Sterilizing Prion-Contaminated Waste in Just 11 E-Z Steps!

Sterilizing Prion-Contaminated Waste in Just 11 E-Z Steps!

Sterilizing Prion-Contaminated Waste in Just 11 E-Z Steps!Any facility regularly handling prions needs a good sterilization protocol. Reliable sources suggest the following minimum inactivation protocol for prion-exposed items:

  1. Carefully place prion-contaminated item in appropriate autoclave waste bag
  2. Place bag in properly sized solid-bottomed autoclave tray
  3. Place tray in autoclave
  4. Close autoclave lid
  5. Process load at 132°C for 1 hour in a gravity displacement sterilizer
  6. Open autoclave lid
  7. Carefully remove tray from autoclave
  8. Place tray in hermetically sealed titanium transfer vessel
  9. Carefully transport transfer vessel to nearest launch port
  10. Blast vessel into outer space
  11. Remotely guide vessel into nearest active stellar remnant, white dwarf or larger

Prions Are Tough Stuff

All levity aside, prions are notorious for their extreme resistant to inactivation. But according to the CDC, many inactivation protocols used in health care facilities are extrapolated from research and never rigorously evaluated.  Since we now know that prion strains harmful to humans are among the most resilient, it’s pretty clear that Giles et al. hit the nail on the head when they wrote: “Prion inactivation procedures need to be validated directly against the prion strains for which they are intended to be used.”  Prion infections are rare, but guesswork just isn’t good enough.

[photo credit: NIAID/ Rocky Mountain Laboratories]

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